The seven seniors on the women’s swimming and diving team joined a divided group before they were able to power their way to 47 victories in four seasons.
Senior Missy Keesler said members of the team would often bring their personal problems from home and classes to the pool. There were extended periods of time when teammates became annoyed with one other during her freshman and sophomore years on the squad.
“After training, you get fed up with everyone and everything that has to do with swimming,” she said. “You have to figure out a way to get over that while still competing and finding a way to work together as a team.”
Keesler lived with senior Kelly Murphy who was also on the team at the time. Murphy said seeing each other all the time put a strain on their relationship.
With dual-meets and invitationals every weekend in addition to practices during the week, it was difficult for segments of the team to work out their differences. The team had weekly meetings with the captains for the first half of the season, during which they stressed icebreakers.
Keesler said the meetings helped everyone on the team realize their reasons for competing and how team support could build self-confidence needed for individual events.
“There comes to the point every season where you hate the sport you’re doing, but you love it so much that you can’t give up,” Keesler said. “We had to make it work, and we did because we’re all still here.”
These weekly meetings culminated in winter break training trips to places such as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Keesler said the 27-hour bus ride to Florida helped everyone on the team become closer.
“Even if we felt we weren’t friends all the time, we ended up being friends in the long run,” she said.
Murphy said the tense moments after the Blue and Gold’s tie against the University of Rochester on Jan. 21 helped the team grow stronger. The Bombers were originally told they had lost the meet. But after an error in adding up the scores from the diving events, the team celebrated together.
“It was amazing what you saw come out of people because we aren’t in that situation often,” she said. “It was what really had to bond us
together — to get over the fact that we didn’t want to be seeing each other at that time.”
The senior class had also experienced a fractured atmosphere in the locker room, as swimmers and divers practiced at separate times. Senior captain Jodi Costello said now that everyone on the team can practice together in the Athletics and Events Center Pool, they want to spend time with each other more often.
“You could walk into the locker room and ask, ‘Who wants to see a movie tonight?’ and there will be at least five other people interested,” Costello said.
The Blue and Gold are currently competing for their fourth straight Empire 8 Conference and Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association titles. The four-day event in Webster, N.Y., will be the final career meet for the seniors.
Keesler said she hopes the growth the seniors experienced will foster an atmosphere of determination, fun and love for the sport on the team in future years.
“I don’t want the culture of the swim team to change, because it wouldn’t be right,” she said. “If it stays this way, it will be what I remember.”